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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

110                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

In Liliencron and Dehmel the familiar contrast of Goethe and
Schiller as naive and sentimental is seen again. Liliencron's verse
was spontaneous, DehmePs was wedded to thought, sometimes
tortured; his poems, he himself says, 'voll^iehen sich aus Gefuhlen, \
Die dengan^en Menschen aufwuhkn.^ In another image Dehmel com-
pared himself to an eagle rising heavily, but, once risen, floating
freely; and the image adequately indicates the majestic sweep of
his verse at its best. Liliencron's verse is sensuous, that is, it gives
impressions of reality through the senses; DehmePs verse is ideal-
istic, that is, concerned with ideals or ideas - his poetry registers
the processes of his thought probing his conception of the uni-
verse. It is nevertheless a question whether DehmePs verse taken
as a whole should be classed as Gedankenpoesie-, his best lyrics -
and when time has done its sifting one suspects that nothing will
remain of him but a slender volume of lyrics which will be reck-
oned with the very best in the German language - are poems of
experience (Erlebnisgeduhte)^ whose rhythm and imagery are borne
along on waves of intense emotion. His definition of rhythm (in
'L.icentia Poetica, one of the disquisitions of T&etrachtungen) as an
undulation of vital energy, every stress being the crest of a wave
of emotion and the rhythm pulsing with the tide of it, admirably
fits his own lyric passion; on analysis it would be found that the
rush of feeling - practically always sexual excitation - comes first,
and that in the shaping of the feeling the idea is called in. The
result is that the verse, though philosophical (and it is the startling
nature of the philosophy throbbed into the passion of the lines
which gives Dehmel his special place in the history of poetry), is
not in the strict sense reflective or cerebral.

Like Falke, Dehmel was a Hamburg man by adoption, but his
landscapes too are not those of Hamburg. DehmePs landscape is
that of the Spreewald where he was born: reed-rimmed or willow-
fringed lakes or rivers, dark pine forests roaring in the wind,
sandy heaths blue with heather, yellowing fields of lupin. He chose
Blankenese because, on the pine-hung uplands by the Elbe, he
thought the scenery came near to that of his homeland; but where
his verse landscapes are most vivid (e.g. Lied an meinen Sohn) there
is no doubt that they are the scenery his boyhood knew. He was
born at Hermsdorf, in the heart of forests of which his father was
ranger (Revterforsfer). When he was six years old his father moved
1 Denk%ettel (Ertosunzerh.